165-1) Call to Order, Roll Call and Introduction of Attendees
At 10:15 a.m., pursuant to the Call to Order of Chair Fraker, the meeting began.
Chair Fraker announced that INPC Secretary, Jonathan Ellis, will not be attending this meeting therefore, pursuant to 2 Illinois Administration Code 2150.220(d), Chair Fraker appointed Commissioner Nevling to serve a temporary Secretary for this meeting.
Carolyn Grosboll gave the roll call.
Members present: Dianne Burton, Guy Fraker, Lorin Nevling, Joyce O'Keefe, Victoria Ranney, and Michael Schneiderman.
Members absent: Jonathan Ellis and Don Pierce.
Others present: John Alesandrini, Steven Byers, Judy Faulkner Dempsey, Bob Edgin, Carolyn Grosboll, Randy Heidorn, Tom Lerczak, Don McFall, Tammie McKay, Angella Moorehouse, Debbie Newman, Debbie Reider, and Mary Kay Solecki, INPC; Randall Collins and Tim Hickmann, Office of Resource Conservation (ORC), Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR); Carl Becker, Mat Bowyer, Dave Cooper, Chris Diel, Terry Esker, Mark Guetersloh, Bob Lindsay, Patti Malmborg, Brian Reilly, Diane Tecic, and Kelly Victory, Division of Natural Heritage, IDNR; Kim Roman, Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, IDNR; Jennifer Coady, Susan Dees, Craig Mitckes, George Rose, and Barb Traeger, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT); Marilyn Campbell, Illinois Audubon Society and INPC Consultant; Betty Youngblood, Illinois Audubon Society; David L. Thomas, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) and INPC Advisor; Jim Anderson, Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD); Gretchen and Roger Batz, representing Jamar Haven Land and Water Reserve; Roger Beadles, representing Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve; Tanner Girard, former INPC Chair; Mark Donham; Kristi Hanson; John and Martha Schwegman.
165-2) Adoption of Agenda
Carolyn Grosboll stated that Items 13 and 16 will be deferred until the 166th INPC Meeting on February 1, 2000, at the request of the landowner. Under Item 20, Other Business, a discussion regarding mining adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve will be added.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the Agenda be adopted as amended.
Chair Fraker reported that legal protection was approved by the Commission for ten tracts of land totalling 1,694 acres at the Commission's 164th Meeting which was held at the Vermilion County Conservation District; Forest Glen Preserve on August 3, 1999. Three of these ten tracts are owned by private individuals, and three are owned by not-for-profit conservation groups. The total acreage of these six tracts is 279 acres. The dollar value of the six tracts of non-government land is $1,007,500 based on conservative estimates of the fair market value. This land was permanently preserved without acquisition of the land by the State. The privately owned lands protected at that meeting included the 202-acre Warbler Woods Nature Preserve in Coles County; the 13-acre Dropseed Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County; the 12-acre Paintbrush Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County; the 2-acre addition to Lloyd's Woods Nature Preserve in Lake County; the 47-acre Jordan Creek of the North Fork Nature Preserve in Vermilion County; and the 3-acre addition to Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Will County. Protection of these lands came about because of the Commission's field staff working with private landowners. An additional 1,450 acres of land owned by state or local units of government were also protected at the 164th Meeting, having a value of approximately $2,100,000. The significance of this protection activity, in terms of dollars, is that it is land that is protected without the necessity of public funds being spent. This is one of the most important aspects of the work that the Commission does. The Agenda for the 165th Meeting of the Commission contains privately owned lands whose owners have responded in the same generous way to dedicate their land. It cannot be overstated how important it is when private landowners care enough about the work of the Commission to come forward and protect that land. The example that these landowners set by their generosity is very important to the overall protection efforts that we all care about in this state. Chair Fraker thanked all of the private owners attending the 165th INPC Meeting for their generosity and the spirit with which they come forward to help the Commission in its protection efforts.
165-3) Approval of Minutes of 164th Meeting, August 3, 1999
Commissioner O'Keefe stated there should be a correction made to the 164th Meeting Minutes in four areas. On Page 9, in the last sentence of the tenth paragraph, the word "how" should be changed to "if". On Page 28, under Item 24, the fourth sentence should be changed to, "The nature preserve's northern boundary is a railroad line, and its southern boundary is Route 60." Also under Item 24, "Granger" is misspelled. The correct spelling is "Grainger". On Page 39, in the eighth sentence of the first paragraph, the word "alternating" should be changed to "altering."
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the Minutes of the 164th INPC Meeting, August 3, 1999, be approved as amended.
165-4) Next Meeting Schedule
Carolyn Grosboll reported that the 2000 meeting schedule is proposed as follows:
1 February - Illinois State Library, Springfield
2 May - Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago
1 August - Lexington Community Center, Lexington
31 October - Pere Marquette State Park Lodge, Grafton
Commissioner Schneiderman expressed concern about the May 2, 2000 meeting being in Chicago rather than near a nature preserve. He was also concerned about the Lexington Community Center for the August 1, 2000 meeting.
Chair Fraker stated that there is precedence to hold a meeting at such a facility like the Chicago Academy of Sciences with past meetings being held at the Brookfield Zoo.
Carolyn stated that the Chicago Academy of Sciences focuses on the natural history of the State of Illinois and has worked with the INPC in the past. The exhibits at the Nature Center relate to the types of work done by the Commission.
Commissioner Ranney stated that there is a lot to be said about seeing the areas that are under the Commission's protection.
Carolyn explained that the Lexington Community Center was proposed because it is near The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) Mackinaw River Project. The Commission has worked with TNC on that project.
Commissioner Ranney asked if the Commission could meet near the Shawnee National Forest.
Carolyn stated that Giant City State Park is the best available facility to hold a Commission meeting near the Shawnee National Forest.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he would be comfortable voting for the proposed schedule with a change of location for the May 2, 2000, meeting.
Carolyn asked if the meeting should be held in the Chicago area.
Commissioner Ranney recommended a site near Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve given the ongoing threat to that site and the Commission's ongoing concern.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the proposed 2000 INPC meeting schedule be approved, with the location for the May 2, 2000, meeting to be determined at a later date .
165-5) INPC Staff Report
Carolyn Grosboll updated the Commission on the three Commission staff vacancies: the Will County Natural Areas Preservation Specialist, the Northeastern Illinois Threats Coordinator, and the Stewardship Project Manager. The positions were posted internally for those with union bid rights. No one qualified under the union rules for the positions. The positions were then posted a second time by the Department of Central Management Services (CMS). That posting came down on October 15, 1999, and the applications are in the process of being graded. Those that make a first cut will be mailed a supplemental test to further test their skills in natural areas management and protection. Carolyn hopes the interview process is completed before Christmas.
Carolyn stated that she was pleased to report that the Commission's Office Specialist position held by Debbie Reider was made full-time effective October 1, 1999. Debbie's position had been 93% permanent part-time. She thanked Carl Becker and the Division of Natural Heritage for their assistance in getting this done.
Carolyn reported that on October 14, 1999, she received a letter from Chair Fraker announcing a change in his employment effective January 1, 2000. Mr. Fraker will be leaving the full-time practice of law with Costigan and Wollrab to work full-time for the Illinois Chapter of TNC as Director of Protection. Mr. Fraker will assume an "of counsel" status with Costigan and Wollrab.
Chair Fraker stated that he was very excited about the chance to work for the protection of Illinois' natural lands, and that his connection with the staff of the INPC and IDNR's Division of Natural Heritage played a role in his decision. The work that is being done by the Commission and IDNR is very important to the people of Illinois, and he is glad that he has a chance to get involved and be part of this effort.
Carolyn reported that she recently spoke with the Governor's Office of Boards and Commissions regarding the status of the Commission's pending appointments and reappointments. She was informed by the staff of Boards and Commissions that all of the paperwork has been sent to the Governor for his approval. She stated that she would notify all of the Commissioners once she heard from the Governor's office.
Carolyn reported with sadness the passing of Jean Farwell on September 25, 1999. Jean was the wife of Frank Farwell, who was the Chair of the Commission from 1994-1995. Jean was a board member of the Illinois Chapter of TNC and was an enthusiastic conservationist. Jean attended several INPC meetings, and her energy and motivation was contagious. Carolyn sent a letter to Mr. Farwell on behalf of the Commission expressing our condolences. A memorial fund has been set up in Jean's name with TNC. The Commission plans to send a donation, and anyone wishing to contribute can send donations to Carolyn. The donations will then be forwarded to TNC in honor of Jean.
Chair Fraker stated that he wanted to add to the remarks about Jean Farwell. She was a dear friend of everyone in conservation, and Illinois lost a good and enthusiastic friend with her death.
Carolyn reported that the staff of the Commission completed the 1995-96, 1997-98 biennial reports in September and submitted them to the Governor. The Natural Areas Preservation Act requires the Commission to report to the Governor every odd numbered year on the status of each nature preserve, registered reserve, and action of the Commission. The Commissioners, consultants, and staff should have received copies in the mail. Carolyn gave a special thanks to Randy Heidorn and Don McFall for their efforts in getting these reports done.
The Land Trust Alliance held its 1999 Rally in Snowmass, Colorado on October 14-17, 1999. Carolyn stated that she was able to attend this very informative conference.
Randy Heidorn and Don McFall attended the Natural Areas Association Conference in Tucson, Arizona on October 12-16, 1999. At that conference, Carl Becker was elected President of the Association's Board and will serve in that post for two years. Randy Heidorn also serves on the Board of that Association.
On September 14, 1999, the Shawnee National Forest Acting Supervisor, Bruce Slover, closed the remaining 40 natural areas to camping, campfires, rappelling or rock climbing, vehicular traffic, and equestrian riding. This completes the closure of all 81 natural areas in the Shawnee National Forest. The Commission will be providing assistance to the Forest Service in their efforts to post boundaries to mark the closed areas. The process is to flag the areas, paint the areas, then ultimately post signs. Signs at five of the closed areas were posted last week. The Commission has also offered to assist the Forest Service in their necessary process to get trails built through the seven natural areas that had trails grandfathered in under the Forest Management Plan.
The Forest Service has also begun the forest planning process for the next Forest Management Plan. This process is required every 10-15 years. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University (SIU) is assisting the Forest Service in their planning effort. The Public Policy Institute held a public hearing on October 19, 1999, which was well attended. Judy Faulkner Dempsey attended that meeting. The Forest Service will hold a formal hearing on November 10, 1999. The Commission plans to stay very involved in this process to ensure that the 81 natural areas continue to have the recognition they received in the 1992 Plan.
Don McFall reported that seven new Natural Heritage Landmarks were enrolled since the 164th INPC Meeting. Brian Reilly negotiated five of them and will be reporting on them shortly. Tom Lerczak negotiated Mettler Woods Natural Heritage Landmark (NHL) in DeWitt County. This is a 65-acre upland forest owned by TNC. Mary Kay Solecki negotiated Alexander's Dell NHL in Champaign County. This 3-acre tract protects a population of Sangamon phlox, an endangered species restricted to very few sites along the Sangamon River in Champaign and Piatt counties. The landowners are Ralph and Stephanie Alexander of Mahomet. In addition to the new landmarks, Bob Edgin re-enrolled Huddlestun Woods NHL in Jasper County. This 5-acre upland forest had been a landmark since 1981, until the landowners died. It was passed down to the next generation. Ron and Sharon Huddlestun of Phoenix, Arizona and Chandra Luna agreed to continue protecting the woods and re-enrolled the landmark. There are now 126 Natural Heritage Landmarks covering over 5,600 acres.
John Alesandrini, Randy Heidorn, and Brian Reilly conducted a training session on preparing legal descriptions for new nature preserves and land and water reserves for the field staff on Monday, August 25, 1999. John Alesandrini and Angella Moorehouse coordinated Wildlife Preservation Fund grant projects that benefited nature preserves in their districts. The Wildlife Preservation Fund is one of the sources we encourage landowners to use for stewardship needs, biological surveys, and education and interpretation projects for preserves in their ownership. Mary Kay Solecki wrote an article "Anatomy of a Woodland Burn" that appeared in the fall issue of the Illinois Steward. Steven Byers spoke about "Natural Resources at Risk" at the 25th Annual Conference of the Illinois Environmental Council. Judy Faulkner Dempsey continued to work with the Forest Service on the issue of protection and stewardship of natural areas in the Shawnee National Forest. She represented the Commission at a recent public hearing concerning updating and revising the Shawnee Forest Management Plan. Bob Edgin assisted the Forest Service in posting the natural areas that were recently closed to certain recreational uses. Most of the staff have been updating the Commission's Vegetation Management Guidelines. These guidelines provide landowners with the most current methods for controlling exotic plant species on their preserves.
Randy Heidorn reported that as of October 1, 1999, we have begun to issue the year 2000 special use permits. The special use permits are used primarily by researchers, but are also issued for seed collectors. The number of permits that were issued over the last four years has increased on an average annual rate of approximately 50%. The trend does not seem to be ending at this point.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there were a lot of permits for only a few sites.
Randy stated that the sites are finite. The number of sites where permits are issued are growing very slowly. However, the number of permits issued has increased an average of 26% per year annually. There is increased compliance. The Chicago Wilderness program has also increased the interest in doing research in the Chicago area. At some nature preserves, the level of research is becoming a concern.
Randy reported that there were hearings held by Comptroller Hynes to look at the status of the protection of cemeteries across the state. A citizen at one of the hearings, who has relatives buried within Hetzler Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve, has expressed some concern over the land management occurring in that area. They expressed concern that prescribed burning was damaging some of the cemetery markers. The citizen also expressed concern about the area being overrun with prairie wildflowers and weeds. To address this issue, the local State's Attorney and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) have been contacted by the citizen. As a result, Commission staff have talked with IHPA to resolve this issue. All parties involved, IHPA, IDNR, and INPC, have agreed to discontinue burning at this site until appropriate guidelines can be drawn up so that grave markers can be protected. One of the management goals of this site which is part of the original dedication agreement is the protection of the pioneer cemetery. INPC will work with IHPA and other parties involved to insure an agreement is reached so the management of the prairie will not impact those cultural resources associated with that nature preserve.
Deer management programs have begun at Beall Woods Nature Preserve. The archery portion of the deer management began on October 1, 1999. All indications are that the program is going well. The firearm portion of the deer management will begin with the regular deer hunting season in November. The firearm deer management at the George B. Fell Nature Preserve in northwestern Illinois will also begin in November. IDNR continues the deer management at Goose Lake Prairie Nature Preserve in northeastern Illinois. These three programs are accomplishing our goals and are reviewed on an annual basis based on the impacts to vegetation.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that she wanted to commend the staff for a very fine biennial report. She felt it was a very useful and nice document in terms of giving a retrospective view of what the Commission has been doing. She asked that, because it reports so thoroughly on the status of each of the preserves, especially the non-conforming activities such as the changes in the preserves, wind damage, erosion, and illegal campfires, whether the report could also reflect the action taken to correct these situations.
Carolyn Grosboll stated that if there was a non-conforming use that occurred during the year, most often staff would have learned about it prior to the time of the submittal of the annual report which is due by February 15 of each year. Generally, staff would have taken some action to address it. When the biennial reports are done, the information is taken off the annual reports. Perhaps something could be added to the annual report that would require the person filling it out to report on what actions were taken regarding each of those non-conforming uses.
Randy Heidorn stated that the way the data is collected for the biennial report is that staff annually mails a report for each preserve to be filled out by the landowner. When those reports come in, they are reviewed, copied, and sent to the field staff. Randy stated that he also reviews each of the reports. Things needing action are dealt with at the time of his review.
Carolyn Grosboll asked if a field could be added to the annual report to say what was done about a particular non-conforming use.
Randy stated that he would look into this issue.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that it sounds like the non-conforming activity is being addressed, but the Commissioners do not have a way of knowing that these issues are being followed up on. She suggested that there be some way to reflect and insure that all of these negative reports were responded to.
Randy stated that when the annual report form goes out, staff include on the form what the landowner reported the previous year, and often they will report on a continuing problem. During our editing process for the biennial report, some of that is removed because it would be very difficult to read in the context of the report. Randy stated that he would look at a way to reflect the corrective action taken.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Randy if there was any type of an auditing process by which he had confidence or could give confidence to the Commissioners that the reports are accurately reflecting what is going on in the nature preserves.
Randy stated that the reports are sent out to the field staff, and usually the field staff will report if there is something unusual. Very often reports are sent in from the landowners with no information. If that happens, the field staff are asked to complete the information and report on any changes.
Don McFall stated that the field staff are required to visit each of the nature preserves on a two year cycle. That is the Commission's way of monitoring what is occurring.
Commissioner Burton asked if there was follow-up correspondence to owners of nature preserves that do not submit reports.
Randy stated that staff try to get reports from each landowner, and they receive an average between 60% and 80%. Staff has, in some years, done multiple mailings to them. That does not seem to help. Over a four year period, there were 10-15 landowners that had not submitted reports at all during that period.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked Randy if when the staff goes out on these periodic visits to the nature preserves, does he find the information generally consistent with what he finds on the annual reports.
Randy stated that this was usually the case.
165-6) IDNR Staff Report
Carl Becker advised the Commission of three personnel changes at higher levels within IDNR. Brian Anderson who spent the last four years with the Conservation 2000 program and the ten years prior to that as the Director of INPC, has been promoted to Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Analysis. He replaces Karen Witter who moved on to the State Museum. Carl stated that we expect great things out of Brian and continued great things out of the Scientific Surveys. Bruce Clay, Deputy Director for IDNR, retired, and he has been replaced by Dick Mottershaw. Dick Mottershaw was the Office Director for the Office of Mines and Minerals. When John Comerio retired, he was replaced by Jim Garner. Jim Garner had previously worked for the Division of Wildlife, the Division of Natural Heritage, and most recently was assistant to the Office Director for the Office of Resource Conservation.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the Office of Mines and Minerals was the office that granted the permit for the mining next to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve.
Carl stated that this was correct.
Carl reported on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. This is the federal legislation going through Congress which will bring millions of dollars to Illinois and other states for conservation of natural resource lands and fish and wildlife. Presently House Resolution 701 is moving the quickest, and it is going to be a consensus bill between House Resolution 798, which is Congressman Miller's bill from California. House Resolution 701 is Congressman Young's bill from Alaska. Markup is going to be next week or the week after to bring that consensus bill. There is still time in Illinois to get a few key people on as sponsors. Those people would be Congressman Crane, Congressman Porter, Congressman Costello, Congressman Hastert, Congressman Manzullo, and Congressman Shimkus. Since the 164th INPC Meeting, Congressman Phelps and Congressman LaHood signed on as co-sponsors. United States Senators Durbin and Fitzgerald from Illinois have not signed on as co-sponsors for Senate Bill 25, which is a companion bill in the Senate. Carl feels that it would be very helpful if contacts were made with Senators Durbin and Fitzgerald regarding Senate Bill 25.
Carl reported on the Open Land Trust Act, specifically on the grant and loan portion of that Act and the rules that will govern the grants and loans. On August 31, 1999, approximately 40 interested parties met to help IDNR develop the rules for the grant and loan portion of the Open Land Trust Act. The comments that were received in the three breakout groups at that meeting were used to develop a public review draft that was sent out on October 12. We are currently getting comments back on that draft. The comments received on the drafts will then be used to prepare the final draft which will be presented for formal rule making before the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and published in the Illinois Register in November. The goal is to have applications mailed out in February with the grant awards to be announced in May or June. These grants will be offset by six months from the Open Space Lands Acquisition Development (OSLAD) grants which are awarded in January. There will be a minimum of $10 million available for grants under the Open Land Trust Act, but it could be up to $20 million depending on how the partnership components work out.
One purchase has been made through the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF) since the 164th INPC Meeting. One hundred sixty-two acres on the Cache River State Natural Area in Johnson County were purchased. This property is a combination of wetlands and upland buffer to the Land and Water Reserve. This land was purchased for $188,558.
Carl reported that the 27th Annual Natural Areas Association Conference will be held October 16-20, 2000, in St. Louis on the river front. The opening event will be a reception under the Arch which will be hosted by the National Park Service. Carl suggested that everyone should take this opportunity to meet a lot of people in conservation, management, and protection of natural areas and those involved with related legal and legislative matters.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated it was her understanding that $20 million from the Open Land Trust Fund was going to be used by the Department for acquisition on behalf of the Department, and there was $10 million for the grant program and another $10 million for partnerships. She wanted to know what Carl was combining.
Carl stated that there is $20 million for the Department to acquire land and $20 million for a combination of grants and partnerships.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated she had not thought of them as being combined until this minute.
Carl stated that there is $20 million on one side for IDNR land acquisition and $20 million for grants and partnerships. There will be approximately $10 million for grants and approximately $10 million for non-governmental organizations partnership. The exact amounts will depend on demand during the first year. There could end up being more money for the grants if there is less demand for the partnership money.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if anything has been done to develop standards for the partnership money.
Carl stated that he has not worked on that at this point.
Brian Reilly reported on railroad prairies growing on active railroad rights-of-way. The Commission staff was asked to look into how INPC can protect these railroad prairies. This was a two- part project. The first part was to identify the prairies, and the second part was working with the railroad companies in order to preserve the prairies on their rights-of-way. Brian presented a map for the Commissioners' review. The red dots on the map were unprotected prairies on railroad lines. The green dots on the map were protected prairies on active railroad lines, and the yellow dots were abandoned railroad lines. After two and one-half years, INPC has put five more green dots on the map. Staff are currently working with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company. A dedication ceremony was held at Santa Fe Prairie Nature Preserve and the President of Burlington Northern Santa Fe attended. Brian and Carolyn talked with him at the dedication ceremony about the other prairies owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company. This resulted in the preservation of five prairies that are identified on the map as numbers 7, 8, 10, 48, and 63. They are Thompson-Fulton Railroad Prairie in Whiteside County, Wheellock Railroad Prairie in Whiteside County, Savanna South Railroad Prairie in Carroll County, Beardstown Railroad Prairie in Cass County, and Knox Railroad Prairie in Knox County. Brian stated that he would continue to work to make the red dots green, and that he will continue to keep the Commission updated on the progress.
Commissioner Ranney stated that this is a real achievement, and the Commission should thank IDNR for allowing Brian to continue following up on this. She asked if this activity has been reported to the press, and if the railroad companies are willing to have this done.
Brian stated that the previous companies he has worked with requested there be no publicity because they were afraid it would draw attention to the railroad tracks and increase their liability.
Commissioner Ranney stated that she has had an inquiry about this project by a writer in New York who is very interested, and she wanted to get some information from Brian. She thought there may be some parts of the story that could be publicized.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what type of preservation status these railroad prairies have.
Brian stated that they have merged the NHL agreement with a standard management agreement, allowing IDNR and INPC to share the responsibility for management of the prairies. This agreement is longer and contains more legal documentation than the traditional NHL agreement. Essentially, they are one-year management agreements where the railroad agrees to stop spraying herbicide on the property. In return, IDNR and INPC will keep the vegetation under control through prescribed burns. The railroad also agrees to stop dumping railroad ties and trash along their rights-of-way. The agreements are for one year and are renewed automatically. The agreements give IDNR the right to remove prairie vegetation from the right-of-way if the agreements are canceled or the site is harmed. The agreements are not permanent, but Brian feels this is the strongest protection we can receive at this point because the railroad companies are reluctant to give away their control of the property.
Commissioner Nevling stated that it may be beneficial to convince Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to have their publicist work on issuing some of the press announcements in Illinois. That may have some effect on other railroad prairies in the United States. He feels that publishing this information in one of their annual reports or trade magazines would be of benefit.
Brian stated that this was a great idea.
Chair Fraker asked if Brian was looking for more prairies to protect.
Brian stated that he was, and he would welcome any new information on future sites. He likes to go to railroad companies with as many sites as possible rather than going to them several different times.
165-7) Hancock Co. - Jamar Haven Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Angella Moorehouse presented a proposal for the registration of Jamar Haven as a land and water reserve. The 195.81-acre proposed Jamar Haven Land and Water Reserve is owned by Gretchen Graft Batz and Roger Batz. This site provides habitat for the state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). Before Mr. and Mrs. Batz contacted Angella to look at this property, no one had found timber rattlesnakes in Hancock County since 1940. Gretchen's father did kill a timber rattlesnake near the house in 1994. There is a photograph of this snake which documents the finding. This year, some residents in a mobile home park inside of this farm saw a rattlesnake that was approximately 18 inches long. That snake went underneath the trailer, and no one was able to confirm the sighting. Since the timber rattlesnake was documented in 1994, it is likely that it is still there.
Jamar Haven contains over 110 acres of forest which, supports forest sensitive breeding wildlife, and over 80 acres of grassland which supports grassland sensitive breeding species. Significant archaeological values and geological features are also present. A limestone cliff and rocky outcrops representative of the Glaciated Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division are found in the northwest corner along the bluff. This is where the snake den is suspected to be.
Scott Ballard, Natural Heritage Biologist, IDNR, visited the site, and it was his opinion that the timber rattlesnake and other species of snakes go underneath these boulders. No timber rattlesnakes were found during his visit, but a few other snakes were found such as the prairie ringneck snake, prairie king snake, and a black rat snake.
The bluff overlooks the flood plain of the Mississippi River. The landowners intend to protect this site as a sanctuary for wildlife and plants. Much of the area will be restored to presettlement savanna and open woodland conditions. Allowable uses will include hiking, nature observation, photography, environmental education, and scientific research. There are 72 acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) until 2001. At that time, the owners are going to try to re-enroll this land in CRP to get more money to pay for additional restoration. Angella stated that she has talked with the Soil and Water Conservation District about some of the management techniques such as prescribed burns, and there is a new program called CP25, specifically for savannas which would allow for some of the trees to grow rather than having to constantly burn or mow. Burning will be done on this site only during December through March so the snakes will not be injured.
Mr. and Mrs. Batz have decided to register their entire property which includes a barn and utility shed. At the present time, there is a farm manager who raises three horses on the property. Because he takes care of the barn and watches over the property, they would like to continue to allow him to do this. The farm manager keeps the fences and barn in good repair. He also pays the utility bill. There is a farm management agreement which is a written statement of what his obligations are. It was Scott Ballard's opinion that the pasture would improve the habitat for the snakes. If the horses were removed, the brush would develop before it could be controlled. The management plan provides that this area will be managed last. Provided there is no significant negative impact, the grazing will continue. When the farm manager no longer needs to keep the horses there, that will be the end of grazing. There is one corn crib that is located below the limestone cliff that is owned by a local farmer. The local farmer stores corn there, and he has to get permission from the Mr. and Mrs. Batz to access the corn. There are also two hay storage sheds rented out to local farmers. All of the above are providing habitat and food for the snakes. The horses are not allowed into the wooded ravine. They graze approximately 15 acres. The farm manager is required to keep the erosion at a minimum and to re-seed if erosion occurs.
Angella introduced Roger and Gretchen Graft Batz.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what the qualifying features were for this site as the habitat for the rattlesnake is suspected but not confirmed.
Angella stated that there was a timber rattlesnake killed five years ago, and there was an unconfirmed sighting this year. There is also a great horned owl, barred owl, pileated woodpecker, and Baltimore oriole. There are two endangered and threatened grassland birds that are nesting within three or four miles which are the upland sandpiper and the loggerhead shrike. As this habitat is brought back to its natural condition, it is hoped that these grassland birds will come. The Cooper's hawk, goldfinch, bluebirds, and common yellow throats were also found at this site.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the archaeological significance had been investigated.
Angella stated that at the landowners' request this was not investigated. They were concerned about a lot of investigation into the archaeological findings.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that this is a pretty disturbed piece of land, and a lot of what we are doing here is providing some level of preservation so that it can be restored.
Angella stated that a lot of the original vegetation of the woodlands is lacking.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated this was not a present tense kind of action. Without registration, it doesn't have a chance.
Angella stated that there are no other sites for timber rattlesnakes in the county. One would have to go approximately 150 miles to find the next rattlesnake area. The rattlesnake was seen five years ago, and there is a good chance that it is still there. This site provides habitat for them. Angella stated she would like to find the timber rattlesnake. If this property gets approved as a land and water reserve, she would like to apply for a Wildlife Preservation Fund grant to locate the snake.
Randy Heidorn stated that the one reason this area qualifies is because of the habitat for the timber rattlesnake. A record that is under ten years old is still considered a valid record for purposes of the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI).
Angella stated registration of this land also protects over 100 acres of forest and over 80 acres of grassland. The archaeological resources were not investigated, but there are significant archaeological resources there as confirmed from the artifact that was collected.
It was moved by Nevling, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Jamar Haven in Hancock County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 7 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
Chair Fraker thanked Mr. and Mrs. Batz for their generosity.
165-8) Massac Co. - Sielbeck Forest Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Mark Guetersloh presented a proposal for the registration of Sielbeck Forest as a land and water reserve. Sielbeck Forest is a 385.3-acre site located approximately eight miles northeast of the community of Joppa in Massac County. This site was recognized by the INAI (#0071) due to its high quality swamp and wet-mesic floodplain forest and is located in the Bottomlands Section of the Coastal Plain Natural Division. One state-endangered plant species, the large sedge (Carex gigantea) and one state-threatened plant species, the American snowbell (Styrax americana) are present at this site. It is the last high quality remnant of an extensive swamp and lowland forest wetland known as Big Black Slough. The site is owned and managed by the IDNR as a satellite of the Mermet Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area.
Mark gave a brief history of the site. When Mr. Sielbeck died, the land went to his son. His son immediately put the land up for auction. The timber was marked by several timber buyers. IDNR owns 128 acres of the 203-acre natural area. The timber value on the 128 acres was estimated at $478,000. TNC and IDNR did great work acquiring this property before someone else did. The proposed reserve includes another 257 acres, most of which is farm land. The plan is to take that acreage out of production within the next six years, and to reforest it. The only area on the site that will not be reforested are two small parking areas. One will be at the north end of the property, and one will be at the extreme south end of the property. When TNC purchased this site, there was another site on the north side for sale, adjacent to the Mermet Lake Conservation Area. This site was also owned by Mr. Sielbeck and was known as the Sielbeck Q Ditch Natural Area. It was 38 acres in size and contained 19 acres of Grade B swamp and 19 acres of Grade B wet-mesic bottomland hardwood forest. The bidder bid more on this 38-acre site than TNC did and it went to a local landowner. Approximately one month after the property sold, the timber was harvested. The site was not drained because it is a wetland and is protected by law. The landowner dug a ditch and put in a well for irrigation. He applied for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit after the fact, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is doing everything they can to minimize the effects of this irrigation system in the middle of the cornfield.
Mark thanked TNC for their decisive and quick action in acquiring this property.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Sielbeck Forest in Massac County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 8 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-9) Union Co. - Guthrie Cave Land and Water Reserve, Registration
Bob Lindsay presented a proposal for the registration of Guthrie Cave as a land and water reserve. Guthrie Cave is a 79.3-acre site located approximately 1.5 miles southwest of Giant City State Park in Union County. This site was recognized by the INAI (#1021) for its high quality terrestrial and aquatic cave communities and is located in the Lesser Shawnee Hills Section of the Shawnee Hills Natural Division. At over two miles in length, it is one of the largest caves in southern Illinois. The site is owned and managed by the IDNR as a satellite of Trail of Tears State Forest. Recent stewardship projects at this site have included boundary surveys and exotic species control. The Nature Preserves Commission conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site as a nature preserve at its 121st Meeting (Resolution #995) on February 7, 1989. However, at this time the IDNR prefers to register the site as a Land and Water Reserve.
Commissioner O'Keefe noted that preliminary approval was given for this site to be a nature preserve in February, 1989. She was curious why there was a delay in the follow-up, and she asked why it was changed to a land and water reserve designation.
Bob stated that the delay was due to three different District Heritage Biologists having this District. He stated that he is the third biologist to manage this property, and he had to continue the effort of protection of this site.
Carl Becker stated that the Department, as with any landowner, must reach a consensus on land management issues. After the land and water reserve program was implemented, the IDNR and INPC staff considered all areas that were natural areas on IDNR lands for possible registration as land and water reserves. There was a process with all of the land managers and other people in the agency to look at which areas would qualify as a land and water reserve and which areas should be dedicated as nature preserves. Guthrie Cave was one where, after further discussion, it was the consensus within the agency that the area should be registered as a land and water reserve as opposed to dedicating it as a nature preserve.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked why this consensus was reached.
Carl stated that registration provides opportunities to use the property for activities like hunting. If it was dedicated as a nature preserve, this use would not be allowed. A consensus was reached internally among the managers, the land managers, and ORC.
Commissioner O'Keefe asked if IDNR looked at all IDNR properties that have INAI sites on them, and then made a determination that some areas need additional protection with the main factor being the level of protection depending on whether or not to hunt the property.
Carl stated that there are certain activities not allowed on a nature preserve and hunting is one of them. IDNR has a number of purposes, and one of them is to provide an opportunity for the public to hunt. It was felt, at least in this particular case and some others, that there was a need to provide further protection of the property, and the land and water reserve was an excellent tool to provide that protection, yet at the same time allowed the public to have more uses of the property.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this particular site may be a very good example, since the reasons for protecting this site are underground. She stated that she is a little surprised by the current proclivity of the Department to register areas rather than dedicate them. She wanted to be sure that we are not overlooking some areas that should be dedicated as nature preserves.
Carl gave an example that there are thousands of acres registered at the Cache River State Natural Area. It is extremely unlikely that this area would have been dedicated as a nature preserve, but there is great protection now with it being registered as a land and water reserve.
Commissioner Nevling stated that it is his understanding that caves are about the most sensitive communities in terms of human activity. Therefore, he recommended they be given nature preserve status rather than land and water reserve status. Commissioner Nevling asked Carl to comment on this. He also asked what is currently being hunted on this property since it is clear that hunting is the reason that it is being registered as a land and water reserve.
Bob Lindsay stated that the watershed that drains into that cave is currently unprotected since it is on private land. The current hunting is for deer because the site is over-populated with deer.
Carl stated that either designation would limit access into the cave and lessen human activity.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the Department would consider dedicating the cave and registering the surface.
Carl stated that a land surveyor would have to be consulted because he was not sure how that could be done. It would be like dedicating the underground rights.
Bob stated that a stewardship project is planned for this year to survey and mark the boundaries. Some of this work has been done, and the surveyor placed a monument at the entrance to the cave so the underground passages can be surveyed.
Judy Faulkner Dempsey stated that there is a cave in Monroe County (Armin Krueger Speleological Nature Preserve) where the subterranean portion of the cave is dedicated and the surface is not dedicated.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked the staff to further investigate the possibility of dedicating the cave as a nature preserve. He also stated that in the Natural Heritage approval sheet there is a note, "see attached comments on cave from Dr. Steve Taylor." He wanted to know what Dr. Steve Taylor had to say about this cave and if his comments were supportive.
Bob stated that Dr. Taylor was heavily involved in surveying the cave for invertebrates. In addition, this cave has been investigated by people familiar with caves over the last 32 years. Everyone agrees that it is one of the largest or longest caves in the Shawnee National Forest. Bob felt Dr. Taylor's comments were very supportive.
Chair Fraker asked Commissioner Schneiderman if he was proposing to table this issue.
Commissioner Schneiderman stated that he was not proposing to table this proposal. He recommended that the Commission should proceed with the registration, and the underground portion could be brought back to the Commission if nature preserve dedication was found to be appropriate.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants approval for the registration of Guthrie Cave in Union County, as an Illinois Land and Water Reserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 9 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-10) Edwards Co. - Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve, Dedication
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for preliminary approval for the dedication of Beadles Barrens as a nature preserve. Beadles Barrens is a 6-acre, dry-mesic barrens located 4 miles southwest of Albion. Beadles Barrens was recognized by the INAI (#1547) in April, 1999, as Grade C best-of-its-kind barrens and is located in the Mt. Vernon Hill Country Section of the Southern Till Plain Natural Division. The natural area contains a minimum of 235 native plant species including the state-threatened blazing star (Liatris scariosa var. Nieuwlandii). Roger and Vivian Beadles own 5 acres of the natural area and wish to dedicate their portion as an Illinois Nature Preserve. If dedicated, Beadles Barrens Nature Preserve would provide permanent protection for a rare community type, a population of a state-threatened species, and the only site in Edwards County to be recognized by the INAI.
Bob stated that there is one disturbance feature associated with this site. In the 1980's, during the oil boom, an oil lease was initiated on the property. It was operated as a series of one-year leases and was in effect as long as oil was produced from the well. The well was closed in 1990. The lease expired in 1991, and the area has been recovering since that time. There are relatively few exotic species present on the site. Roger Beadles has been good about keeping these species controlled.
This area was originally purchased by Morris Harris in 1866. Morris Harris was the grandson of John Woods who wrote the classic book, "A Two Years Residence on the English Prairie." Roger Beadles is the great-great grandson of Morris Harris. This tract has been in the family since 1866. Bob introduced Roger Beadles and thanked him for coming to this meeting.
Commissioner Ranney asked if John Woods original book described this area as barrens.
Bob stated that John Woods did not mention barrens to his knowledge. All of the information that Bob has collected on the barrens of the Wabash River has come from general land office survey notes.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by O'Keefe, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of Beadles Barrens in Edwards County, as an Illinois Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 10 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
A lunch break was taken from 12:20 - 12:35 p.m.
165-11) Kane Co. - Addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, Dedication
On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County Steven Byers presented a proposal for preliminary approval to dedicate Lots 3 and 4 of the Randall Point Executive Center II Subdivision in Elgin as additions to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve. Both lots are located within the INAI boundary for Sleepy Hollow Ravine. Lot 4 still retains its natural features and is proposed for dedication as nature preserve while the natural features of Lot 3 have been destroyed. This lot is proposed for dedication as nature preserve buffer. Sleepy Hollow Ravine was initially included on the INAI (#624) in recognition for high-quality seep, mesic upland forest, and barrens communities representative of the Morainal Section of the Northeastern Morainal Natural Division. The seep and forest survive within the ravine and the barrens are located atop either side of the ravine. The 7.4-acre Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, privately owned by Mr. Glen Spiegler, was granted preliminary approval for dedication at the Commission's 156th Meeting in August, 1997 (Resolution #1386) with final dedication granted in May, 1998 at the Commission's 159th Meeting (Resolution #1415). Preservation of Lots 3 (1.28 acres) and 4 (3.02 acres) as an addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine will further protect elements of high-quality seep and mesic upland forest, and increase the size of the nature preserve from 7.2 acres to 11.5 acres. On behalf of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County and the Fox Valley Land Foundation, INPC staff recommends preliminary approval for dedication of Lot 4 (3.02 acres) as nature preserve and Lot 3 (1.28 acres) as nature preserve buffer. Steven recognized the leadership and support of the following individuals who made this proposed addition a real conservation success story: Mr. Richard Panichi of PanCor; Ms. Kathy Hurlbut with Kane County; Ms. Nancy Fishman with The Grand Victoria Foundation; Mr. Tom Armstrong with the City of Elgin; Ms. Day Waterman with the Fox Valley Land Foundation; and Mr. Jon Duerr with the Forest Preserve District of Kane County.
Lots 3 and 4 were acquired through a cooperative agreement. Appendix C, the Allocation of Funding Agreement for Protection, and management of the site, annotates the funds that were raised, which totaled $796,000, to protect the 4.3 acres. The fund raising was tied directly to the close proximity to the intersection of the northwest tollway and Randall Road which is a prime development area. The initiative for the funding efforts came from the Fox Valley Land Foundation (FVLF). They applied for a grant from the Grand Victoria Foundation. The sources of funding included $112,500 from Grand Victoria Foundation, $112,500 from Kane County, $300,000 from the City of Elgin, a $100,000 gift to the FVLF from Mr. Barancik, and $171,000 from Pan Cor.
The agreement provided for the conveyance of the property to the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. The language of the conveyance is provided in the proposal as Appendix D. The conveyance specifically provides that Lots 3 and 4 would be considered for nature preserve status by INPC within 12 months. That term has been honored. The Fox Valley Land Foundation has a conservation easement on the property.
Steven stated this was a cooperative effort, and he specifically acknowledged Ms. Day Waterman, the Executive Director of the Fox Valley Land Foundation. She was tireless in her efforts to work with the various parties to reach this final agreement.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this is an amazing effort on the part of so many people. The layers of protection on this piece of property are significant with dedication, a conservation easement, and ownership by a land management agency that is obligated to hold it in perpetuity. It was an accomplishment to raise the necessary funds, and the involvement of the Grand Victoria Foundation should also be noted. She noted that this achievement required much coordination.
Commissioner Ranney stated that she concurs with Commissioner O'Keefe's statement. This project is especially exciting since it is near the intersection of the northwest tollway and Randall Road. Without this kind of effort to bring people together, this land would be lost.
Steven stated that he had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Panichi and his staff on their initial development, Randall Point I. He stated that he, Patti Malmborg, and Keith Shank from IDNR had an opportunity to bring to their attention issues regarding protection of Sleepy Hollow Ravine. Mr. Panichi and his staff were cooperative, and they expressed interest in their concerns. The development plan was amended to reduce the potential impact on Sleepy Hollow Ravine. When the option on the property at Randall Point II was exercised, they knew that staff of INPC and IDNR would be involved once again. In that case we were able to meet early on in the planning stages and indicate to Mr. Panichi what we would like to see. Mr. Panichi's staff were very forthright with regard to the economic interest and the concerns that they had with regard to protecting the 4.3 acres. INPC and IDNR staff were able to then begin to fashion an agreement and raise the funds that would provide for this protection. Mr. Panichi and his staff feel this protection will be an important marketing strategy that they will be able to use as they seek occupants for some of the buildings that they will be erecting at Randall Point II.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if any further additions to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve were anticipated.
Steven stated that he has already met with a private landowner, Mr. Joe Nitch, who owns 1.6 acres immediately upstream from this site. An appraisal has now been done of the property, and he has talked with Mr. Nitch about the opportunities for charitable donations available through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that might flow from dedication of the land as a nature preserve. Mr. Nitch has expressed interest in dedication, and it is anticipated that yet another addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve will be presented at a future INPC meeting
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted.
The Commission grants preliminary approval for the dedication of an addition to Sleepy Hollow Ravine Nature Preserve, as described in the proposal presented under Item 11 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-12) Calhoun Co. - Jennings Family Hill Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
Debbie Newman presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Jennings Family Hill Prairie as a nature preserve. Eileen Parrington, along with her son and daughter, Tom Parrington and Mary Krueztfeldt, own this 29.06-acre natural area that has been in their family for more than 150 years. The site contains Grade A loess hill prairie, Grade A limestone cliff community, and Grade C mesic and dry-mesic upland forest. The hill prairie and limestone cliff are listed on the INAI (#1227). The hill prairie is home to conservative species such as bluehearts (Buchnera americana), Indian plantain (Cacalia plantaginea ), and leadplant (Amorpha canescens). The state-threatened timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) has also been known to inhabit the property. The site has been enrolled in the Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark program since 1988. If approved for dedication, Jennings Family Hill Prairie will be the first nature preserve in Calhoun County, and the first hill prairie in the Driftless Section of the Middle Mississippi Border Natural Division to be legally protected in perpetuity. The INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this site at its 162nd Meeting on February 2, 1999 (Resolution #1460).
Debbie stated that the original proposal was to dedicate 34 acres. Subsequently, the family paid for a survey to be done on the site since the property had not been surveyed in over 150 years. The recent survey showed that the acreage was actually 29 acres.
Debbie thanked Bob Lindsay, District Heritage Biologist, IDNR for his hard work at this site. He originally signed this property up in the NHL program. He worked with the landowners and paved the way for having the first nature preserve in Calhoun County.
It was moved by Schneiderman, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Jennings Family Hill Prairie Nature Preserve in Calhoun County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 12 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-13) Cook Co. - Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve, Dedication
The dedication proposal for Sundrop Prairie Nature Preserve was deferred to the February 1, 2000, meeting.
165-14) Hamilton Co. - Karcher's Post Oak Woods Nature Preserve, Dedication
Bob Edgin presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of Karcher's Post Oak Woods as a nature preserve. The proposed Karcher's Post Oak Woods Nature Preserve is owned by the Illinois Audubon Society who wishes to dedicate the entire 39.5-acre tract as a nature preserve. Karcher's Post Oak Woods is located in the Mount Vernon Hill Country Section of the Southern Till Plain Natural Division of Illinois and contains 32 acres of very old-growth post oak (Quercus stellata) forest as recognized by the INAI. Many of the canopy trees are more than 150 years old with the largest trees approaching 36 inches in diameter and 225 years in age. Karcher's Post Oak Woods was granted preliminary approval for dedication as an Illinois Nature Preserve at the Commission's 164th Meeting on August 3, 1999 (Resolution #1493).
Bob stated that he would like to apologize to the Illinois Audubon Society. When he gave the presentation for preliminary approval of this site, he just mentioned the Audubon Society, not specifically the Illinois Audubon Society. He wanted to make sure the credit goes where the credit is due. Bob thanked the Illinois Audubon Society for their protection of these woods.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Ranney, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of Karcher's Post Oak Woods Nature Preserve in Hamilton County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 14 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-15) Marshall Co. - Addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, Dedication
Tom Lerczak presented a proposal for final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, owned by Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang, is a 2-acre tract (Lot #s 116 and 117) within the 78-acre Hopewell Estates Hill Prairies Natural Area (INAI #231). The natural area was recognized by the INAI for high quality glacial drift hill prairie and is located in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division of Illinois. The property is located along the Illinois River bluffs approximately 18 miles northeast of Peoria in the Village of Hopewell. Mr. Brucker and Ms. Yang propose to dedicate approximately 1.1 acres of Grade B glacial drift hill prairie and Grade C woodlands on Lot #139 as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve. The proposed addition is separated from the dedicated nature preserve by approximately 950 feet of privately owned, unprotected natural area, located mostly on very steep, undeveloped hillsides. INPC conferred preliminary approval for dedication of this addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve at the Commission's 164th Meeting on August 3, 1999 (Resolution #1494). The INPC staff recommends 1.1 acres at Lot #139 in the Village of Hopewell be granted final approval as an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve.
Tom informed the Commission that Maury Brucker and Emiko Yang recently received the Conservation of the Year Award from the Illinois Audubon Society for their protection efforts at Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve, as well as at another INAI site in Marshall County.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission grants final approval for the dedication of an addition to Hopewell Hill Prairies Nature Preserve in Marshall County, as described in the proposal presented under Item 15 of the Agenda for the 165th Meeting.
165-16) McHenry Co. - Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve, Dedication
The dedication proposal for Carol and Lydia & Tom and Brandon Addition to Boone Creek Fen Nature Preserve was deferred to the February 1, 2000, meeting.
165-17) Lake Co. - Illinois Beach Nature Preserve and North Dunes Nature Preserve - Update on Asbestos Investigations and Remediation
Randy Heidorn updated the Commission on the Illinois Beach asbestos issue. IDNR is currently working on a settlement with Johns Manville for the cleanup of the road area in the south end of the nature preserve. The road was constructed with asbestos containing material (ACM). The current plan for cleanup is hand picking on an annual basis. The area has revegetated nicely, and it has a well established plant community present. It was felt that pulling the ACM all out at once would require heavy equipment and would be very destructive to the area. Also, the area is currently closed in general, and a further restriction would be added to limit research use to those people who are qualified to go in an area like this. The area is approximately 3.42 acres in size and is located in a very remote portion of the nature preserve.
The Citizen's Advisory Group (CAG) for the Waukegan Harbor continues to investigate the use of the landfills at Johns Manville for disposal of inner-harbor dredge materials. This issue has been discussed at previous INPC meetings. The CAG has been very interested in keeping the Commission informed. The Commission has the authority under Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) rules to sign off on the establishment of landfills to insure that the landfill does not negatively impact a nature preserve. The CAG has invited the Commissioners to tour the site, and Commissioner O'Keefe has toured the site. The potential impacts of the hydrology still need to be resolved before staff can determine if a landfill would impact the nature preserve.
165-18) Lake Co. - MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve - Request for Additional Equestrian Trail
Chair Fraker stated that at the 164th INPC Meeting held on August 3, 1999, a presentation was made for the request of an additional equestrian trail at MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve. A committee from the Commission was appointed which consisted of Vicky Ranney, Joyce O'Keefe, and Steven Byers.
Steven Byers gave a slide presentation to the Commissioners. He noted that he and Commissioner O'Keefe toured the site. Aerial photos of the site illustrate the significance of MacArthur Woods which is a large tract of woodlands. There was much discussion at INPC's 164th Meeting about the intersection of St. Mary's Road and Route 60. Route 60 is currently a four-lane road which is heavily used. A slide was displayed which showed the trail that currently exists in MacArthur Woods. This trail is being used and maintained by trailriders. Another slide looked into the woods, and shows a fair amount of usage currently at that site. The next slide was of the interior woodland, specifically where equestrian riders were leaving the trail when they encounter obstacles, such as trees on the trail. This trail currently lies along the alignment of an old road bed which is apparent in the aerial photograph. It is about 15 feet wide, and is the location of the proposed trail spur. A slide of the Des Plaines River Trail was shown. It is a 12-foot wide trail which the proposed spur is intended to reach. This trail was designed to accommodate a number of different uses such as equestrian, bike, and pedestrian traffic.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if the equestrian riders are using trails that they should not be using.
Steven stated that this was correct.
Steven advised the Commissioners that their agenda packet included recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee's report to the Commission includes the essence of their discussions and meetings with the LCFPD staff on September 24, 1999. Those in attendance were Commissioners Ranney and O'Keefe; Steven Byers; Carol Calabresa, President of the LCFPD; LCFPD Commissioner Al Westerman; LCFPD staff Mike Fenelon, and Jim Anderson. The memorandum dated September 28, 1999, discusses the recommendations regarding the Equestrian Access Trail at MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve. The instrument of dedication specifically provides for routing of a trail within a distance of Route 60 and St. Mary's Road. Those provisions allowed for construction of the larger Des Plaines River Trail. Interpretation of that instrument of dedication could provide for routing and construction of the proposed trail spur.
Steven introduced Jim Anderson, LCFPD, who discussed some of the terms that he would like the Commission to consider when deciding whether or not to approve the request for the equestrian trail spur.
Chair Fraker thanked Jim Anderson, LCFPD, for attending the 165th Meeting of the INPC.
Jim Anderson stated that the aerial photo shown earlier was taken in 1939. The aerial photo shows the old road bed where the proposed trail is to be located. However, it does not show the Des Plaines River Trail.
Mr. Anderson felt that the meeting on September 24, 1999, was fruitful. The LCFPD has taken the recommendations to its Development and Finance Committee. That Committee met on October 5, 1999, and they have approved the recommendations. There were five recommendations that were agreed upon for this access:
Jim stated that he would like to expand upon the last recommendation. The Grainger Conservation Woods parcel is further south on St. Mary's Road. It was a 257-acre donation from W. W. Grainger to the LCFPD. Restoration efforts are currently underway at this site. Nine endangered and threatened species have been found. The site is a Grade A wet mesic upland forest. Currently, the District is planning an effort to look at MacArthur Woods and do a full site project for clearing off invasive species. MacArthur Woods is divided into three communities. There is the floodplain forest along the Des Plaines River. There are mesic woodlands, and there are northern flatwoods. Most of this site is impacted with common European buckthorn, and the District's efforts right now are to begin a 100-acre clearing project. Most of this will be done by hand. Grainger Woods responded positively, and it is felt that the same will happen in MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve. A 24-inch tile was found that is draining over 50 acres of wetland. Mr. Anderson is meeting November 2, 1999, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Steven Byers, and IDNR to discuss this project and possible funding for it and to elaborate more on what they are doing. Mr. Anderson stated that the LCFPD is going to have approximately 15 people working at the site this winter.
Steven stated that at this point he would defer to the two Commissioners on the Ad Hoc Committee for additional comments.
Commissioner Ranney felt that the meeting went very well with the LCFPD. The LCFPD has not dedicated a nature preserve since 1991, and she feels that the Commission is back in good relations with the District. Several of the different considerations were worked through at the meeting with the LCFPD. The Commission was concerned about the stable being enlarged and the resulting damage as has happened in the Shawnee National Forest. LCFPD understood that, and the agreement reflects that. She said the project will enable people to get across Route 60 more safely. She recommended that the Commission approve this agreement. The full LCFPD has not yet approved the agreement. No problems are anticipated, but the Commission's approval should be contingent upon their approval.
Carolyn Grosboll asked when the next LCFPD board meeting was scheduled, and if they scheduled to entertain this issue at that meeting.
Mr. Anderson stated that it may be November 12, 1999, but he was not positive on that date. He did not foresee any problem with this agreement.
Commissioner O'Keefe stated that this issue was problematic for the Commission only because the issue of equestrian trails is a very difficult one. Equestrian use of trails can be very damaging to nature preserves. This is a case where the original dedication document allowed for an equestrian trail, a multi-use trail on at least two sides of the property. As long as the LCFPD is willing to abide by these conditions, it would provide a much safer access and basically recognize a situation that the Commission had actually allowed to be created and yet had not provided that access originally. Commissioner O'Keefe further noted that the LCFPD recently received the Gold Medal Award, an award given to only one land holding conservation agency in the country. Of all the park districts and all the forest preserve districts in the country, this is a significant achievement. She hoped that now that they are a recognized leader in the conservation area, that they will, in fact, also be a leader in dedication of the properties.
Commissioner Schneiderman referred to the September 24, 1999, memorandum from Steven Byers. In paragraph 8, section b.) "...the INPC will notify IDOT that any expansion north of the current alignment would require the approval of the INPC." He wanted to know if anyone had contacted IDOT.
Steven stated that he should put that sentence into some context. The instrument of dedication provides for the widening of Route 60. The widening would occur only with the approval and recommendation of the landowner, then with approval by the INPC. That approval requirement is provided for in the instrument of dedication. During discussions with the LCFPD staff, Steven stated that it was highly unlikely that the Commission would ever approve such a request to widen the road to the north. There was some discussion as to whether the INPC staff should write a letter to IDOT alerting them to that fact. There has not been any action taken specifically in regard to that provision.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission approves the equestrian trail at MacArthur Woods Nature Preserve as requested by the LCFPD, subject to the Commission's recommendations outlined in the memorandum dated September 28, 1999, and included in the Agenda under Item 18, and such approval is further subject to the full LCFPD Board approval of such recommendations.
Chair Fraker gave a special thanks to Steven Byers, Commissioner Ranney, and Commissioner O'Keefe for taking the extra time to work on this issue and for facilitating future dedications in Lake County.
165-19) Public Comment Period (3 minutes per person)
Kristi Hanson, from Pope County, stated that there is an opportunity to have input on protecting a few areas in the Shawnee National Forest. President Clinton just announced a new roadless initiative, and the Forest Service is presently doing an environmental impact study on three areas in the Shawnee. Those areas are Burke Branch, Hutchin's Creek, and Ripple Hollow. Two of those are still under the roadless status, and one is a special area that is in between LaRue Pine Hills and Clear Springs Wilderness. It would make a big block of protected land. This is a national initiative, and she felt that smaller areas also be included. She was asking the Commission to lend its support in encouraging the Forest Service to protect these areas. Approximately two weeks ago the Burke Branch area had another gate removed. Approximately five gates have been destroyed at this site. She felt this area needs the roadless status. She gave Chair Fraker a note expressing her comments to be forwarded on to Chief Dombeck, U.S. Forest Service.
165-20) Other Business
Carolyn Grosboll reported that Material Service Corporation (MSC) resumed mining adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve last month. MSC had voluntarily agreed to stop mining in August of 1998 while a hydrogeologic report was updated by their consultants. The report they were updating was to determine whether the mining would have a negative impact on the Fen. The report was updated and submitted to the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois State Geologic Survey (Surveys) for review last spring. The Surveys asked MSC for more information and the report was to be revised. The Commission thought there would be another opportunity to review the revised report. Carolyn stated that she received a copy of the revised report on September 7, 1999, along with a letter stating MSC's intentions to resume mining. In MSC's opinion the report is final and they contend that the mining will not have a negative impact on the Fen. IDNR's experts are of the opinion that the final report does not tell us anything new and that we still do not have enough information to determine one way or the other if there will be damage to the Fen from the mining.
Carolyn responded to MSC's September 7, 1999, letter and expressed the Commission's concern about their resuming mining. She also stated that IDNR and the Commission were of the opinion that if the report was final, then the confidentiality agreement between MSC, IDNR and the Commission that was signed last spring was over. The confidentiality agreement stated that the agreement remained in effect through the peer review and evaluation process as that process relates to the report. If the report is final and MSC does not intend to have INPC's and IDNR's experts submit comments as part of a review process, then the peer review and evaluation process is over. On October 15, 1999, MSC responded in writing that they disagreed with our interpretation of the confidentiality agreement. However, IDNR's legal counsel concurs with Carolyn's analysis and feels that the agreement ended with the review process of the report. MSC also stated that they intended to mine up to 250 feet of Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve's boundary. Their permit allows them to mine up to 50 feet of the nature preserve's boundary. MSC stated that they are voluntarily agreeing to this temporary buffer.
Carolyn stated that she was contacted by Steve Stanek of the Chicago Tribune who was writing a story on this issue. She provided comments expressing the Commission's concern for the Fen. An article appeared in the October 19, 1999, McHenry County edition of the Chicago Tribune. The article was very fair. Two individuals with MSC were contacted by the reporter. One declined comment, and the other was unavailable. A copy of the article was distributed to the Commissioners.
Carolyn recommended that the Commission pass a resolution which laid out the history over the past year and urge MSC to stop mining pending further study of the hydrology of the area so that the Commission can learn whether the mining will have a negative impact on the Fen. It was suggested that the resolution should be conveyed to MSC with a cover letter from Chair Fraker to the President of MSC, Mike Stanczak.
Chair Fraker stated that the Commission is alarmed and upset by the unilateral action of MSC and MSC's disregard for continuing the spirit of cooperation that was demonstrated a year ago. Chair Fraker stated that Carolyn has done an excellent job of dealing with this issue until it could be discussed at a Commission meeting. The threat here is not one that can be repaired. When the damage is done, the damage is done forever. This is a serious situation.
Carolyn stated that the experts at the Surveys say that there is not enough information to make a determination on the potential damage to the Fen, but they are confident that the recharge area of the Fen is within the area being mined. The recharge area for the Fen is very significant to the longevity of the Fen. However, there has not been a long enough period of monitoring to make a conclusive determination about possible impacts. The experts say that it takes a minimum of three years of monitoring. When MSC first reached an agreement with IDNR ten years ago, they were supposed to be monitoring this area for ten years prior to any mining in this area. That monitoring was never done. In the last year, there has been a significant amount of monitoring going on, but one year's worth of monitoring is not enough to make a determination.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if MSC was in breach of an agreement or understanding that they had with IDNR.
Carolyn stated that a memorandum of agreement was drafted, however, it was never signed. There is no enforceable agreement.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked if there was any regulatory power that the Office of Mines and Minerals would have to force MSC to stop mining.
Carolyn stated that the Office of Mines and Minerals determined that they have no regulatory power in this area. When the original permit to mine this area was issued, the Commission, as well as IDNR's Division of Natural Resource Review and Coordination, urged Mines and Minerals to put some restrictions on the mining permit. They determined that they did not have the authority to do that.
Commissioner Schneiderman asked what options we might have to get an order to force MSC to stop mining.
Carolyn stated that she has talked with the Attorney General's office about this issue. She further stated that Assistant Attorney General, Bill Seith, who is now a Deputy Director with IEPA, went to Champaign to meet with representatives of both Surveys. She and Stan Yonkauski of IDNR's legal office were also there. Bill asked the experts if they could state conclusively that there would be damage to the Fen from the mining activity. The representatives of the Surveys said they did not have enough information to make that determination at this point. The Assistant Attorney General then said there was nothing that could be done. A year has gone by, and that question has not been asked again of the Surveys.
Carolyn stated the Commission has a $100,000 per year contract with the Surveys for ongoing studies at this site so they are continuing their monitoring efforts. There is hope that enough information can be gathered to determine what the impacts will be.
It was moved by O'Keefe, seconded by Nevling, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
Whereas, Continued mining by Material Services Corporation (MSC) immediately adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the integrity of this unique natural area; and
Whereas, In August of 1998, MSC voluntarily stopped mining adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve so that their consultants, STS Consultants, could update a hydrogeologic assessment report which MSC claimed would show that their mining activities would not negatively impact the Fen; and
Whereas, The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission was very optimistic about this process; and
Whereas, The hydrogeologic assessment report was presented to the Commission in the Spring of 1999, and our scientific experts from the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois State Geologic Survey (Surveys) had an opportunity to review the report; and
Whereas, A meeting was held in April of 1999, between experts from MSC and the Surveys, IDNR, and the Commission to discuss the Surveys' review of the report. Based upon the information provided in the report, the Surveys could not determine whether MSC's mining activities would not damage the Fen, consequently, several questions arose out of that meeting and a revision of the report was to be done; and
Whereas, On September 7, 1999, the Commission received a revised report with a letter from MSC's Senior Vice President of Operations, David Olson, stating that "the attached report confirms that MSC's natural resource recovery efforts near the Lake in the Hills Fen are not adversely impacting the site. We intend to reopen the aggregate recovery efforts on our property which we voluntarily halted nearly one year ago". Mining began shortly thereafter; and
Whereas, The Commission considers this unilateral action in resuming mining a violation of the spirit of cooperation that had been ongoing between MSC and the Commission over the past year; and
Whereas, On September 17, 1999, INPC Director Carolyn Grosboll responded to MSC to express the Commission's concern about MSC's plans to resume mining since the Commission's experts do not believe there is enough information present in the report to state conclusively that damage will not occur and to restate that the Commission's past efforts have been directed toward assisting MSC in avoiding injury to the Fen and that the Commission would like to continue that effort; and
Whereas, On October 15, 1999, MSC responded to the Commission's letter of September 17, 1999, and stated that the report was final and in their opinion shows there will be no damage to the Fen; therefore be it
RESOLVED, That since there is not enough information to conclusively determine from MSC's report that damage will not occur to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve from MSC's mining activity, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission urges Material Service Corporation to immediately cease all mining activity adjacent to Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve and authorizes its staff and Chair to take all possible steps necessary to otherwise have the mining stopped.
Commissioner Ranney urged the State of Illinois and the staff of INPC to, with all urgency, look into arrangements for the purchase of the site.
It was moved by Ranney, seconded by Burton, and carried that the following resolution be adopted:
The Commission urges the staff of the INPC and the IDNR to make all due haste to negotiate with MSC and other interested parties for the purchase and preservation of Lake in the Hills Fen Nature Preserve.
Commissioner Ranney stated that the staff should immediately notify the Commission of any developments in this matter.
Chair Fraker thanked the staff for their presentations. He said the presentations, as always, were well done and complete.
It was moved by Burton, seconded by Nevling, and unanimously approved to adjourn. The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.